A Wrinkle in Time is an adequate mess (movie review)


I can’t remember the last movie I saw that was as frustrating as A Wrinkle in Time. The trailer didn’t have me jumping out of my seat with excitement, but I was intrigued by the premise, so here I am, reviewing a movie I liked more than I didn’t and sort of recommend. Here come the spoilers!

spoiler alert

First of all, for a movie with the word Time in the title, it has little use for time or the rules of the Einstein Rosen Bridge (wormhole) theory that its plot heavily relies on. I get that we can’t expect Interstellar/Event Horizon/etc level science exposition scenes in a movie that Disney made for children (IE, by the end of the movie, time is relative, soyears would have passed on Earth), but I still think it’s confusing. A Wrinkle in Space would be a more accurate title as the subject at hand is traveling great distances rather than circumnavigating time.

Let that set the tone for what follows, which may be problems with the source material as well as the movie – having not read the book, I have no way of knowing.

Everyone on Earth is a dick
I can’t remember a depiction of reality with so many dickish people: the Principal telling Meg her father is never coming back, the scientists at the presentation laughing in Chris Pine’s face, the teachers wildly speculating on Chris Pine’s whereabouts, the girl click… yeoch.  Which brings me to…

The smoke monster made them do it
Maybe it’s the source material, but didn’t anyone see Green Lantern?  I guess what I’m saying is don’t have a smoke monster be your villain.  And generally, I hate the concept of It. I hate that it doesn’t have a name (that just seems lazy) and I hate the idea that jerks have an excuse for being jerks (It made them do it).  If all you have to do to  get people to be nice is to defeat a giant smoke monster, then why does Meg need to be one with herself and the universe?

Three wise old mentors is two too many
I can see how this could work in a book, but it just doesn’t work here.  The early scenes with Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling don’t accomplish anything, and when it comes down to it, you have three super-powered beings who ultimately abandon children to face the biggest threat in the universe.

The entire scene on the first planet is basically pointless
You may begin to detect a theme here.

If memory serves, Reese Witherspoon just happened to pick the same planet Chris Pine traveled to and talking flowers say he went “that-a-way.”  So first they try frolicking through the field in the same general direction (pointless), then Witherspoon transforms into a giant leaf monster.  I guess the idea is to scout the planet faster, which makes sense (also, why can’t they use their power to just jump all overt the planet?), but then she brings the kids aboard, and Levi Miller falls off.  The flowers save him, but since they’re ability to catch falling humans (or do anything) wasn’t set up, it comes out of nowhere.

The leaf monster looks terrible and is pointless. There’s no excuse for a CGI element looking this bad in 2018. I saw it in the Beauty and the Beast remake and it’s on full display here again – sometimes, Disney is just not willing to go the extra mile and pay for the additional texturing that makes something look like it’s really there.  Also, Storm Reid should have fallen off the leaf monster, not Miller – after all, she’s the protagonist who needs to learn to be one with the universe, and this could be another illustration of how far she still has to go.  Kinda like Luke getting his butt kicked in the bar fight or “No McFly ever amounted to anything in the history of Hill Valley!”  I’m not saying every movie needs to be the same, but if you’re making a fairly tradition hero’s journey movie by Disney for children, it’s probably not wise to stray to far from the formula.

What is Levi Miller doing here, anyway?
Narrative, I can’t figure out where Levi Miller’s character fits.  It seems like he’s just there so Meg has someone to talk to when Charles Barkley wasn’t around and also, heaven forbid there’s no love interest.  There’s a lot of, “Oh no, are these children about to kiss?” but then they don’t, which is good, because TOO YOUNG, but it also made me feel like I was watching a commercial for a sequel.

It’s not all bad!
The movie has a lovely color palette despite Disney cheaping out occasionally on the CGI. I also thought the placement of items in the frame was interesting, particularly when there would be metaphorical distance between characters shown physically, with one character at the end of the frame and the other at the extreme reverse side.  I liked the performances, especially Storm Reid, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Zach Galifianakis (impressive restraint), but I never forgot I was watching Oprah with a bunch of wacky makeup on, Reese Witherspoon (as others have said) was just doing her Tracy Flick voice and Mindy Kaling was mostly wasted.  I hope director Ava DuVernay doesn’t get saddled with the blame for the many issues with A Wrinkle in Time as there are a lot of good ideas here (definitely dug Meg’s triumphant journey home) and especially because of the problems I see reek of film making by committee.

About Jamie Insalaco

Jamie Insalaco is the author of CreativeJamie.com, BomberBanter.com and editor in chief of ComicBookClog.com

Posted on April 1, 2018, in movie review and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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